New Zealand's referees will be stepping out in pink this year thanks to a three year sponsorship deal, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) announced today.
Pink Batts will sponsor New Zealand's referees for the Investec Super Rugby, ITM Cup and renamed Pink Batts Heartland Championship.
The new pink strip will makes a debut next weekend in round two of Super Rugby when the Highlanders host reigning champions, the Chiefs in Dunedin and the Hurricanes host the Blues in Wellington.
The uniform will carry the catch-line 'Another Good Call'.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed the new partnership as a great acknowledgment of the role referees play in rugby.
"We are delighted to have Pink Batts join our rugby team of sponsors and they do so in a significant way through sponsorship of referees across three levels of competition.
With the Heartland Championship not having had a title sponsor for some years, Tew said the new agreement, "will certainly help the profile of what is an important tier in our domestic competitions."
Pink Batts General Manager Tony Te Au said they were proud to get in behind referees and show support for the guys on the field that are often the unsung heroes of any match.
"Referees are crucial to each and every game of rugby; they are the backbone of the game," Te Au said.
Pink Batts are also working with the NZRU to develop additional mentoring opportunities for referees.
"As a company we wanted to get in behind them and show our support - not just visually but behind the scenes as well."
The bright pink uniform will ensure the match officials do not go unnoticed, NZRU High Performance Referees Manager Rod Hill saying: "We're looking forward to raising the visibility of referees to rugby followers and if the colour gets people talking then that's fantastic.
What's really important is that Pink Batts' support will help increase awareness and interest in what referees do, while helping us to retain the current crop of referees."
New Zealand referee Chris Pollock said: "If wearing pink means we can encourage more people to be involved in refereeing at all levels of the game, and that more people recognise that refereeing can be great fun, then I'm all for it."